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Keeping leaves, sticks, and grass off your lawn can be a constant challenge. Blisters and backaches are a common side effect of hours spent clearing your yard. Backpack blowers offer you an easier way to keep your yard and driveway looking its best. Many have the power to clear large debris, in a relatively short amount of time. However, finding the right backpack blower can be a challenge. Wading through all the choices and reading consumer reviews takes precious time.
That’s where we come in. At BestReviews, we consult experts, read consumer opinions, and test products to provide you with the honest, unbiased reviews you need to make an informed decision. We do not accept free samples from manufacturers, which means every product we test is purchased off the shelf or online, and our analysis is free of bias. We’ve put together a shopping guide to give you the information needed to narrow down your choices, and to help you decide what features are most important to you. When you’re ready to buy, don’t forget to check out our top five backpack blower picks.
Two-stroke engines pack more power in a lighter package than a four-stroke engine.
But, they are harder to maintain. You have to use a mixture of gas and oil in the fuel tank. You can either make this mixture yourself, or buy premixed fuel at a home improvement store.
Backpack blowers usually weigh twice as much as a handheld blower. If you’re worried about carrying that extra weight, look for a backpack blower with a hip belt. A hip belt puts most of the weight on your hips, rather than your shoulders.
Four-stroke engines take the same kind of fuel you put in your car. There’s no need to buy special fuel or do any mixing. They are very efficient, which means you’ll get more work out of every tank of fuel. Four-stroke engines can produce significant overall power, but that also means a bigger engine and more weight.
Battery-powered, or electric engines, are relatively new to the backpack blower market. There are very few of them, but they are growing in popularity for a number of reasons. They are quieter and don’t put out any harmful emissions like a gas engine. Battery-powered backpack blowers can be used in areas that have restrictions on noise and air pollution. These blowers aren’t as powerful as a gas-powered blower, and you’ll probably need a backup battery.
You should always wear hearing protection when using a backpack blower because the engine is very close to your ears.
Airspeed is how fast the air comes out of the tube. It’s measured in miles per hour. Battery-powered blowers reach about 140 mph, while a powerful gas engine could reach speeds of 250 mph or greater.
How much airspeed you need depends on how large of an area you need to clear, and how much debris and leaves you need to move. The more yard you have, the more airspeed you’ll need.
Routine maintenance is essential to the life your backpack blower. Be sure to regularly clean and replace the air filter, check the housing for cracks, and occasionally clean the exterior of the blower.
The other measurement used by manufacturers to describe the power of a backpack blower is how much air exits the tube in one minute, measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm).
This number is directly related to the tube size. A narrow tube with a high airspeed won’t clear as well as a wide tube with high airspeed.
Take into account both airspeed and tube size when determining how powerful the backpack blower really is.
Manufacturers use cfm (cubic feet per minute) and mph (miles per hour) to describe the power of backpack blowers. CFM refers to the volume of air leaving the tube, and mph tells you how fast that air is moving.
The convenience of carrying the blower on your back gives you the freedom to use it almost anywhere, but you’ll be carrying anywhere from 14 to 25 pounds.
Look for backpack blower with an ergonomic design that fits to the body of the person who will use it most often. Adjustable shoulder straps are a must.
Even better are models that include a hip belt. Hip belts take the weight off the shoulders and put it on the hips, where it’s easier to carry.
To help prevent user fatigue, many backpack blowers include features like mesh netting and a rounded frame, helping the backpack portion fit better.
To prevent injuries from repetitive motion, the throttle should be ergonomically designed so as not to aggravate the wrist, elbow, or shoulder. You should be able to hold your arm in a natural position and use the throttle.
An anti-vibration system helps reduce user fatigue, yet not all backpack blowers have it. These systems vary by manufacturer, but most use a series of springs and anti-vibration mounts to help absorb the vibrations, so your body doesn’t have to.
Your ears aren’t the only thing that may need protection when using a backpack blower. Gloves and eye protection are also recommended, to protect from any debris thrown by the blower.
Anything that emits noise louder than 75 decibels requires hearing protection. That includes most backpack blowers, especially because the engine is so close to the ears.
Battery-powered blowers are quieter than gas-powered blowers, but we still recommend wearing hearing protection.
Some blowers are designed to reduce noise. If you have neighbors close by, you’ll definitely want to consider a blower with some kind of noise reduction features, like a large capacity muffler.
Noise levels are measured in decibels (dBA). Anything that emits sounds over 75 dBA requires hearing protection.
Backpack blowers start between $200 and $300. You’ll find two- and four-stroke gas engines, as well as battery-powered blowers as you get close to $300.
As the price goes up, the engines get bigger and more powerful. Some come with 250 mph airspeed and impressive cfm.
If you won’t be using your blower for a few months, be sure to either drain the fuel or add a fuel stabilizer.
For $300 to $500, you’ll find larger, heavier blowers with more sophisticated anti-vibration systems and noise reduction features. They often have adjustable tubes.
At $500 to $700 you’ll find commercial grade two- and four-stroke backpack blowers with two-stage intake air filtration systems and adjustable throttle handles, amongst other high-end features.
Large capacity mufflers help to reduce noise, but these machines are powerful, and that much power just brings a lot of noise with it.
Q. I have a small yard, but I want a blower that can move grass, leaves, sticks, and other debris. How much cfm and mph do I need?
A. Since you don’t have a big area to clear, you probably don’t need a large machine. You could use a small two-stroke or battery-powered blower, and be able to handle a moderate amount of debris. You’ll need an airspeed of at least 175 mph if you’re going to move anything more than leaves. If you have a lot of debris and sticks, you’ll want to look for a model with over 200 mph and a high cfm.
Q. What if my state has special regulations for blowers?
A. To help control pollution, California does have special regulations for small engines, such as those found on backpack blowers. To reduce the effects of small engine emissions, the engine must be California Air Resources Board (CARB) compliant. You can still use a backpack blower, but you’ll need to find one that says it is CARB-compliant. Though they aren’t pollutant free, CARB-compliant models are more efficient and run cleaner.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.